Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pastoral Leadership – Part 4 of 7

While there needs to be a paradigm shift in how pastors see spirituality in relation to management, there needs also to be a paradigm shift in how pastors see themselves personally. The apostle Paul when writing to the Church of Rome, warns against pride, instructing believers not to think of themselves more highly than they ought. Most pastors do not battle pride in the sense of declaring themselves to be that which they are not or in blowing their own trumpet. Pride cripples pastors as it subtley rises in their private world. Pride rises in pastors with attitudes like, ‘if you want it done right then do it yourself.’ ‘The spiritual leadership approach finds the solution in contemplation, to approach situations with an attitude of discernment rather than one of intervention, acceptance rather than control; letting go rather than holding on; in humility rather than in competence.’ Every time a pastor puts his trust in his own abilities rather than in God’s grace and favour, the seeds of pride are planted. Whenever a pastor carries the burden of church or ministry on his own shoulders, rather than laying it at the cross, pride sneaks in. Jesus describes his yoke as easy and his burden as light and encourages people to go to him for rest. For pastors, pride sneaks in when they put faith in themselves and their abilities rather than Christ, when they try with human effort to grow or expand the church. Psalms warns us though that unless the Lord builds the house it is labour in vain. Carl Green describes senior pastors as needing to take the role of ‘super leaders’ in their ministry and leadership context, yet this concept only adds great expectations to a pastor who likely sets high standards for himself, and realises his congregation and community will be as well. Pastors need to understand that they are not ‘God’s gift to the church,’ God’s gift to the church was the Holy Spirit poured out in the book on the Day of Pentecost. Pastors need to understand that the church is a gift that has been entrusted into their stewardship as a divine responsibility, but at the end of the day Christ has promised that he will build his church if we could but partner with him effectively through personal spirituality. There must be a sense of humility and an awareness of ones own personal shortcomings and sinful nature, with any success being attributed to grace and goodness of God working in their life.

This paradigm shift to Godly humility releases a pastor from trying in his own strength to work the miracle of church growth that only God can do. While using wisdom to apply appropriate church growth principles and practice, a pastor can be released from carrying a burden that they were never meant to carry. This allows freedom to pursue God rather than human success. This leads to a whole shift in the questions that a pastor finds himself asking on a daily basis. Rather than asking questions like; ‘how can I grow the church bigger?’ ‘How do we get more unsaved people through the door?’ ‘How do we improve our systems and take the band up a level, and get more youth and young adults on board with the vision of the church?’ Questions start addressing issues such as, what is God doing in the church at the moment and how do we best respond to that? What is God saying to us? What is God teaching our congregation at the moment? Personal spirituality will lead a pastor to look for the hand of God in the church and congregation with a desire to apply appropriate management technique as a response of faith to what God is doing in the church. Pastors move from initiating human thinking and wisdom to responding in faith to God’s leading and directing. This allows pastors to respond with compassionate attentiveness to the demands of the people around them and with reverent prayer to the demands of God for our attention. Paradigm shifts in thinking allow pastors to see spirituality and management as interdependent skills. It allows pastors to walk in humility free of expectations and the burdens of ministry, allowing them to pursue the hand of God in their church and respond accordingly.

To be continued…

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